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The 10 Most Significant NHL Trades of 2014

Hockey
The 10 Most Significant NHL Trades of 2014

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports Images

We like to react immediately when a trade is made, particularly at the trade deadline. The truth is, we really can’t call a winner or loser in a trade or assess the impact the trade will have for both teams. Now that we’re deep into the playoffs we know at least the short-term impact these trades made. The trades made during the season were mostly for teams to load up for a playoff run. Many players who were traded will be unrestricted free agents at season’s end, meaning they were brought into their new teams to help them win the Stanley Cup.

Sure, many trades looked good at the time, such as the Ryan Miller trade to St. Louis, but the Blues were ousted in the first round and Miller is hitting free agency. Going with Brian Elliott against Chicago likely would’ve netted the same result.

General Managers are judged based on how they could improve their team mid-season and give their team the missing piece. So, which players proved to be huge additions?

10) Roberto Luongo — Florida Panthers

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports Images

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports Images

No, this move had no bearing on the 2013-14 season but it was still a great one for the Florida Panthers. It solves their goaltending issues, at least for the next few years and makes the team a more attractive destination for free agents.

The Panthers gave up young goalie Jacob Markstrom and Shawn Matthias while getting Luongo and Steven Anthony.

Getting Luongo will be huge for Florida next season. We can’t look at this move in hindsight yet, but getting Luongo in net, likely Aaron Ekblad with the first overall pick and with plenty of cap space to work with, the Panthers will be in a great position to improve next year.

9) Ilya Bryzgalov — Minnesota Wild

 Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports Images

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports Images

The Minnesota Wild have already gotten about the best they could hope for out of Ilya Bryzgalov. They leaned on him far more than they would’ve liked, but injuries to their goaltenders forced their hand.

Bryzgalov went 7-1 for the Wild down the stretch to help Minnesota reach the playoffs, with a .911 sv% and 2.12 GAA.

Bryzgalov started the Wild’s first-round series against Colorado, but was pulled in favour of Darcy Kuemper. Kuemper played great for Minnesota before he was hurt in Game 7 against the Avalanche. Bryzgalov finished the game and played the entire second round vs Chicago. Unfortunately, he hit a wall and the Blackhawks beat Minnesota despite being outplayed for large stretches.

Bryzgalov will likely be out of Minnesota come next season, but he got the Wild to the playoffs with a solid finish to the regular season. He gave the Wild exactly what they were hoping for.

8) Kevin Klein — New York Rangers

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports Images

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports Images

Kevin Klein has proven to be a better fit for the New York Rangers than Michael Del Zotto was. He’s solidified the defence corps and is a reason why the Rangers have been so successful this season.

He’s played in every playoff game for the Rangers and provides some balance for them after the top pairing of Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi. He was a plus-4 in 30 regular season games for New York. In the playoffs he has four points and is a plus-7.

He’s not only helping the Rangers this year; he has four years left on his contract with a reasonable $2.9 million cap hit. It’s a good bargain for the Rangers going forward.

7)¬†Stephane Robidas — Anaheim Ducks

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports Images

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports Images

If Stephane Robidas had stayed healthy, the Anaheim Ducks likely would’ve went further in the playoffs. The Ducks acquired the veteran defenceman from Dallas, but Robidas broke his leg in the Ducks’ first-round series with the Stars.

He only managed to play three games in the Ducks’ playoff run. At 37 years old, breaking his leg has many wondering if he’ll be able to resume his NHL career or at least play at a similar level as he did prior to breaking it.

6) Matt Moulson — Minnesota Wild

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports Images

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports Images

It was a tough season for Matt Moulson, as he played for three teams. He played for two bottom feeders, the New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres. Moving away from John Tavares, whom he had tremendous chemistry with, hurt his stock for free agency this summer.

His season totals were 23 goals and 28 assists for 51 points. That’s still impressive considering he was on three teams. In Minnesota, he had 13 points in 20 regular season games, but just three points in 10 playoff games.

Moulson still played a key role in getting Minnesota to the playoffs and did what he was brought in to do; get them some offence. Again, the fact he was on three different teams had to have weighed on him and he still did a good job.

5) Mike Weaver — Montreal Canadiens

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports Images

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports Images

Nobody batted an eye when the Canadiens acquired Mike Weaver. Many Habs fans probably didn’t even know who Mike Weaver was. Well, they sure know him now and they love him.

You wouldn’t think a third-pairing defenceman would make much of an impact, but Weaver has been a warrior for the Canadiens.

He played 17 regular season games for the Canadiens and quickly earned the trust of his coaches, getting rewarded with ice time in key situations. He played every playoff game for the Canadiens and was constantly paired with different defence partners, including Francis Bouillon, Douglas Murray and Nathan Beaulieu. They all rotated, but he remained in the lineup because there was no reason for Michel Therrien to pull him.

Weaver was a plus-9 in his 17 regular season games in Montreal and a plus-8 in the playoffs. Weaver seems to block every shot in his path, getting on his knees, sliding, kicking pucks away, etc… He blocked 45 shots in the postseason. He even took quite a punch from Zdeno Chara and lived to talk about it. There’s no price he doesn’t pay for his team. Exactly the type of player you need in the playoffs.

4) Dale Weise — Montreal Canadiens

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports Images

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports Images

It’s moves like these that got Marc Bergevin nominated for General Manager of the Year. Bergevin sent Raphael Diaz, who was having trouble finding a role on the Canadiens, for a struggling fourth-liner in Weise. Weise was not in good graces in Vancouver with his head coach John Tortorella.

Weise has found himself a home in Montreal, as he seems to enjoy the spotlight in hockey’s mecca. He’s shown in these playoffs that he’s a gamer, playing up to the moment. He’s a big, fast forward who can help out the bottom six. He hits, is defensively responsible and he seems to have a knack for scoring goals at key times.

He scored the overtime winner in Montreal’s opening playoff game against Tampa Bay and another game winner against Boston and got the all important first goal in game 7 against the Bruins. Seven points in the playoffs is not what you’d expect from a fourth-liner who couldn’t even crack a starting lineup a few months ago.

Bergevin seems to have hit a home run with this trade.

3) Thomas Vanek — Montreal Canadiens

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports Images

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports Images

Thomas Vanek has also played for three different teams this year and was a part of the Buffalo/New York trade involving Matt Moulson. Bergevin acquired Vanek from the Islanders at the deadline, paying a price far lower than many anticipated, only giving up a 2nd round pick and prospect Sebastien Collberg.

Vanek helped Montreal’s offence come alive, finding great chemistry with David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty. Vanek produced 15 points in 18 regular season games with his linemates, but in the playoffs they struggled and were broken up.

Vanek could be frustrating to watch at times, as he doesn’t always appear to be engaged in the game, but he could score at any moment. Despite his inconsistency in the playoffs, he was still among the Habs’ leading scorers with five goals and 10 points.

Given that the Habs got a first-line talent for far greater than usual market value and they’ve gotten as far as they have, it remains one of the best trades of the deadline and has helped the Canadiens get as far as they have.

2) Martin St. Louis — New York Rangers

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Images

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Images

Whether it was Martin St. Louis’ relationship with Steve Yzerman being strained after originally not being picked to Team Canada, or simply a case of St. Louis wanting to live near his family in Connecticut, the Rangers were the main beneficiaries.

New York shipped their captain Ryan Callahan, a first rounder and a conditional second-rounder. St. Louis’s impact has primarily been in the playoffs, exactly where the Rangers wanted it.

St. Louis has 13 points in the playoffs and has quickly emerged as a leader for the Rangers. It wouldn’t be surprising if the longtime Lightning captain was named New York’s captain next year.

St. Louis’ mother passing away resulted in the Rangers rallying around their teammate and they went on an incredible tear, reaching the Stanley Cup Final.

The 38-year-old seems to have more quality years ahead of him, and that works well for the Rangers who seem poised to be cup contenders for a while.

1) Marian Gaborik — L.A. Kings

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Images

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Images

When you acquire someone at the trade deadline that winds up being the leading goal scorer in the playoffs, you can pat yourself on the back.

Playing on his third team in two years, Marian Gaborik was shipped to Los Angeles from Columbus for Matt Frattin, a second-round pick and a conditional third-round pick. Gaborik has 10 goals and 16 points for the Kings.

He is a big reason why their offence is up compared to the regular season and why they got past San Jose, Anaheim and Chicago. There’s no argument to make against this. Gaborik has proven time and time again that when he’s healthy, he’ll produce goals for you. He’s proven himself yet again in L.A. and the Kings look poised to take home a Stanley Cup.

Dean Lombardi appears to have found the missing piece for the 2013-14 Kings.

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